KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Rubber Council (MRC) expects demand for medical gloves to eventually normalise as the Covid-19 vaccine is expected to be made widely available by the second half of 2021 (H2 2021).
Chief executive officer Brandon Chan said the outlook for the industry is anticipated to remain positive with economic activities seen to gradually recover in H2 2021.
“Ongoing expansion plans by existing and new local players will also support the industry growth,” he said in a statement today.
However, he cautioned that the industry may face several challenges this year such as geopolitical risks, rising competition from other countries, trade tensions, and global economic slowdown due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
“Against this challenging backdrop, MRC will proceed to undertake new initiatives focusing on human capital development and the adoption of advanced technology, as well as helping to push the industry towards enhanced sustainability,” he said.
In ensuring sustainability and given the challenges ahead, MRC believed that the industry must focus on design and development, diversification, automation, and digital technology.
“This will ensure the industry would be able to establish a strong foothold in the global value chain, and continue its significant contribution to Malaysia’s gross domestic product.
“This is also crucial to battle the productivity gaps and reduce the dependency on foreign workers,” he added.
MRC, previously known as the Malaysian Rubber Export Promotion Council, revealed that Malaysia has been supplying more than 60 percent of the world demand for rubber gloves.
Total exports to the United States, the largest market for Malaysian rubber products, increased by almost 79 percent from RM7.25 billion in 2019 to RM12.96 billion in 2020.
Other key markets have also recorded encouraging increase in export, namely the European Union-27 by 101 percent, Japan (64 percent), United Kingdom (157 percent) and China (82.4 percent).
He said last year, the pandemic caused more positive impact on the Malaysian rubber products sector which saw total exports exceed RM40 billion for the first time, with an export revenue of RM40.96 billion in 2020, up 75.6 percent compared with the export value in 2019.
The strong performance in exports was contributed by the spike in exports of latex goods, which posted a year-on-year growth of 95.3 percent in 2020.
The latex goods sector comprises mainly medical devices such as gloves and catheters which made up 90 percent of the total rubber products exports last year compared with 81 percent recorded in 2019.
The increase was driven by the high demand from the medical and health sectors worldwide in the effort to curb the spread of the Covid-19 infections. — Bernama